Source: War History Online
World War II not only changed the lives of those on the front line or living in active military areas; the people left behind at home also faced radical changes to their way of life. Read through the resources below to learn more about the home front in World War II.
During the Second World War Australians at home did not suffer the miseries and privations that many civilian populations in other parts of the world had to endure, but the war did have a profound impact on the Australian home front. Read through this website to learn more.
In February 1942, many Australians thought that the Japanese would invade Australia. Anticipating enemy air attack, blackout restrictions were introduced and air raid warning instructions issued. Barbed wire was also strung across many east coast beaches. To face this threat all Australians, men, women and children, were urged to put their backs into the war effort. Indeed, the adult population was mobilised for war. Women took new roles in essential industries working in what had previously been male-dominated areas.
Other men and women joined voluntary organisations such as the Red Cross or they helped to erect and patrol coastal defences or spot aircraft and shipping. School children collected bottles, newspapers, old tyres or anything else that could be recycled for the war effort. There was an unprecedented demand for food and other products like cotton, not only for the troops overseas and the people at home, but also for the American troops who were starting to arrive in Australia in large numbers. In June 1942, rationing was introduced, and ration books were issued for food and clothing. Two months earlier, in April, the government had launched 'Austerity' war loans to raise money for the war effort. Everyone was encouraged to go 'all in' to support Australia and Australians at war. Read through this article to learn more.
Read through this website to learn more about the conscription debate in Australia during World War II.
In the early years of the war, there were fears that the Australian mainland would come under direct attack. In cities as far south as Melbourne, people dug air raid shelters in their back yards and practised responding to gas attacks. Cities endured blackouts at night as a defence against bombing raids, which fortunately never came. Read through this website to learn more.
Australians began to experience shortages of almost everything they needed in daily life. At the time of World War II, most of them drank tea, not coffee. When the Japanese captured many of the countries that grew the tea supplied to Australia, this caused severe shortages. Enemy action in the Pacific also disrupted the normal supply of goods by ship to Australia. Australian troops abroad had to be supplied with food produced in Australia, and when thousands of American troops arrived in Australia to fight the war in the Pacific, they also had to be fed.
To ensure that everyone received a basic amount of essential supplies such as meat, butter, sugar and tea, the government brought in a system of rationing. Read through this website to learn more.
The British Prime Minister Winston Churchill made it clear that, if forced to choose, he would use English troops and equipment to defend England itself, rather than helping to protect Australia against the Japanese in the Pacific. The Australian Prime Minister John Curtin then called on America for help. Many older Australians who retained the traditional loyalty to England were shocked by this new allegiance.
America responded, and from early 1942, thousands of American troops began arriving in Australia, preparing to fight the Pacific war. By 1943, there were 250,000 Americans stationed in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Read through this website to learn more.
The children of Queensland were directly and indirectly affected by the war years. Unlike the young in the United Kingdom and other locations across the globe, there was no immediate threat of injury or death from enemy action, but their everyday lives were changed. Coastal schools were moved or buildings requisitioned and alternative sites were required. Many children had parents in the services and many others had fathers and mothers overseas, adding a constant fear of when or if they would see them again. They were subjected to air raid drills and learnt to do without many of the peace time benefits of life in Australia through rationing. The war added an element of adventure. Read through this website to learn more.
To aid the war effort, rationing of essential commodities such as food, clothing, rubber and petrol was instituted in all Allied countries early in World War II. It became patriotic to ‘go without’ luxuries in support of troops overseas and industrial production of equipment and supplies for the forces. Read through this website to learn more.
Before the declaration of World War II in September 1939 Queensland was not a heavy industry state. Its industries were geared to primary production and serving the needs of primary producers. The war was to change that. Read through this website to learn more.
Rationing regulations for food and clothing were gazetted on 14 May 1942. Rationing was introduced to manage shortages and control civilian consumption. It aimed to curb inflation, reduce total consumer spending, and limit impending shortages of essential goods. The broad reasoning behind the introduction of rationing was to ensure the equitable distribution of food and clothing. It was also hoped that a cut on consumer spending would lead to an increase in savings, which in turn could be invested in war loans. Read through this website to learn more.
The Pacific war transformed Australia. Air-raid precautions were quickly implemented, with sandbags piled up around public buildings to minimise damage, neighbourhood bomb shelters erected and trenches dug in public parks. Dimmed night lighting was enforced to protect cities and industrial hubs from aerial attack, and was often invoked in artistic and literary works as a potent symbol of war’s secrecy and disruption. Read through this article to learn more.